Odd ending favors Mustangs
Friday night could’ve gone down as a great many things.
It could’ve been about Conner Peterson running wild on the Damonte Ranch Mustangs to the tune of 311 yards – the second 300-plus-yard game of his career – or the two top running backs in the region going head-to-head on both sides of the ball.
It could’ve been about Peterson racking up 401 yards of total offense to go with four touchdowns.
It could’ve been about senior receiver Dusty Fisher breaking the school record for career touchdown catches, now set at 18 with his two vs. the Mustangs.
It could’ve been the back and forth battle that saw two offenses rolling at their finest and two beleaguered defenses coming up with key stops at key times.
In the end, though, Friday night will be remembered for two simple words: Sideline warning.
The Douglas defense appeared to come up with the decisive goal-line stand as time expired Friday night, but through a bizarre and increasingly hard-to-explain chain of events, the Damonte Ranch Mustangs were given two more plays.
The second such play proved to be disastrous for the Tigers and Damonte’s Drew Smith punched in the game-tying touchdown as time expired, again.
Grant Cooper kicked the extra-point just moments later, slipping the high-arcing kick just over the cross bar to clinch a 47-46 win for Damonte Ranch.
Douglas had taken a 46-40 lead early in the fourth quarter on a 52-yard touchdown pass from Michael Nolting to Peterson.
Damonte drove back down inside the Tiger 7, running the clock down to four minutes, but turned the ball over on downs.
Douglas appeared set to run out the clock on a series of hard runs from Peterson. The Mustangs managed to stall the Tiger offense at the Damonte 42-yard line and stopped Douglas on a fourth-down fake punt attempt with 1:03 remaining.
The Mustangs came right back down, aided by a 15-yard late hit out-of-bounds penalty, and found themselves at the Tiger 2-yard line on third-and-goal with 20.1 seconds remaining on a running clock.
Smith took the hand-off on third down and was brought down quickly for no gain as the clock ticked down to 2.8 seconds. The clock would’ve expired before the ball was re-spotted, but was blown dead for a flag thrown on the play.
Officials discussed issuing the Tigers a sideline warning, but picked up the flag, waving off any penalty. Even though the play had been run, the down marker was not shifted to four and the clock was not immediately re-started.
The head referee started the clock and Damonte immediately snapped the ball. Damonte quarterback Kyle Daugherty attempted to spike the ball, but fumbled the ball between his legs and appeared to put his knee to the turf as the clock expired. It was ruled Daugherty had spiked the ball which, In theory, should have given possession back over to Douglas.
But just over two seconds were added back on the clock and Damonte was given one final shot at the end zone.
Smith, who rushed for 186 yards on 27 carries on the night, fumbled the ball across the goal line on the ensuing play but managed to scramble toward it and pounce on it for his third touchdown of the evening.
That set up Cooper’s winning kick.
“I’m extremely proud of the kids’ effort,” Douglas coach Ernie Monfiletto said. “We will take this and move forward. That’s all we can do. We’ll be better next week and we have to get after the Manogue Miners.”
The final 20 seconds were just a cap on an already wild game. Peterson got things going right off the bat, breaking through the line on the first play from scrimmage and sprinting 86 yards untouched to give the Tigers’ the quick 7-0 lead.
It was his first of two rushing touchdowns on the night. He also threw a 29-touchdown pass to Dusty Fisher and caught the 52-yard screen pass for the late 46-40 lead.
The Douglas defense came up with a big stop on Damonte’s first possession and the Tigers came right back down on nine plays as Peterson capped the 62-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown run.
Douglas had a field day running the ball all night, get an additional 79 yards from quarterback Michael Nolting.
“Conner Peterson took the ball in his hands and just had a heck of a night for us,” Monfiletto said. “We decided to focus on the run tonight and the offensive line (Sean Jones, Noah Kelly, Zach Kinder, Ray Bedow, Conner Miller and Jesse Urteaga) did a heck of a job out there.”
Following Peterson’s touchdown, Damonte’s Smith, who leads the region in rushing, returned the kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, cutting the Tiger lead to 14-7.
Douglas again answered right back as Nolting hit Fisher for a 30-yard touchdown pass two plays later, bumping the lead back up to 21-7.
Fisher had six catches for 93 yards on the night.
The Douglas defense came up with a three-and-out on Damonte’s following possession, but the Tiger offense then turned the ball over on downs at the Mustang 27.
The Mustangs cut the score to 21-14 four plays later when Zach Ewert made a one-handed, over-the-shoulder catch and sprinted to the end zone for a 70-yard score.
The teams traded touchdowns on their next two drives, Douglas getting a one-yard run from Nolting and Damonte getting a 17-yard score from Smith. Damonte stopped a fake punt attempt on the Tigers’ following drive and turned that around into a 47-yard touchdown pass. The extra point failed, leaving Douglas ahead at 28-27.
The Tigers got a 32-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter to extend their lead to 31-27.
Damonte took the lead on its first possession of the second half with a 7-yard touchdown run from Ewart and then stripped the ball from Nolting on Douglas’ following possession.
Smith extended Damonte’s lead to 40-31 with a seven-yard touchdown run.
That set up Peterson’s pass to Fisher, which cut the score to 40-38.
The Tiger defense then came up with a big stop heading into the fourth quarter, which set up Peterson’s go-ahead, working the score to 46-40. Douglas came up with it’s second-consecutive stop on Damonte’s next possession, setting up the wild final exchange.
“The defense stepped up and made plays for us,” Monfiletto said. “They put us in a position to win.”
Nolting passed for 150 yards and two touchdowns in the loss and Douglas outgained the Mustangs 566-439 in total yardage. The Tigers also had a 21-14 edge in first downs.